When discussing men’s health, physical health tends to take precedence. While physical health has its place, mental health holds just as much importance. For example, playing sports can create community, be a hobby, and relieve stress. But if the source of day-to-day stress is not discussed, exercising can only take one so far. From a young age, men are taught that being a “man” means expressing themselves opposite to what it means to be a “woman.” Don’t get me wrong; there is value in some of the attributes associated with men, such as courage and perseverance. However, no one fits into a linear box. Undeniably, the rigid notions of manhood negatively affect men’s wellbeing. It is evident in men having a higher suicide rate due to using more lethal means when compared to women. And yet the topic of men’s mental health continues to remain taboo. What if the narrative of being a man simply meant being yourself? What if you could take the notions of manhood that work for you and fulfill your well being positively and disgrad the ones that do not?

Men’s health in the context of fatherhood adds extra complexity. Fathers’ stress can include relationship conflict with a partner, custody battles, employment issues, low self-esteem or sense of self, and trouble connecting with children. Parents’ troubles negatively affect their children. Here are some tips to keep in mind. One practice is acknowledging your frustrations, story, and needs as a man and father are valid. Two, be intentional about spending time with each of your children. Three, practicing caring for yourself, resting, and exploring your purpose. Four, recognize that you and your partner need each other to support the child’s wellbeing. Five, consider individual or group therapy to process your hardships and traumatic experiences that might affect your parenting. Six, connect with other fathers to feel less alone. The next time your fellow father struggles, try holding emotional space by practicing curiosity. For example, asking, what is it like for you? Encouraging and owning the power of opening can help improve friendship dynamics among men.

The role fathers play in their children’s lives is irreplaceable. Studies show that fathers who participate in the day-to-day activities of their children’s lives, such as eating, playing, and doing homework together, increase the children’s academic prosperity and healthy eating. On the other hand, it decreases conduct problems and substance misuse. Similarly, fathers involved with reading to infants with autism stimulate a blooming development for their kids and positively impact the mother’s mental health. In addition, it reduces the burden on mothers, which fosters a stronger family unit. Of course, to positively impact your child’s wellbeing, you do not have to be perfect. However, having a healthy wellbeing, resources, and a community to improve your wellbeing will positively impact your child.

Finding safe spaces to express vulnerability as a man is sometimes hard to find. Having a community of other fathers dedicated to forming friendships in which emotional space is held and the connection is valued is vital. Here are some resources dedicated to improving the wellbeing of fathers. Fathers Incorporated was created by Kenneth Braswell, a black father, to provide fathers dedicated to being a consistent light towards the wellbeing of their children and family services. Visit https://fathersincorporated.net/ to get involved. New Choices Recovery Center helps fathers connect about fatherhood and manhood as they learn healthy plant-based recipes. New Choices Recovery Center meets every first and third Tuesday at 6 pm. For more information, visit their website at https://www.newchoicesrecovery.org or call 518 542 0103. For fathers with children with autism seeking support, email Michael at mhannon@getac.org or Robert at robert.naseef@gmail.com or join their mailing list at autisminstitute@drexel.edu.

Resources for men in general: For residential services targeted towards men’s supportive living, call 518 237 9891 or email mgifford@hopehouseinc.org. Gaming Addicts Anonymous can be contacted at albany@cgaa.info for peer support for people with gaming addiction. For sex addiction concerns, connect with Journey to Hope. Visit https://www.ajourneytohopesaa.org, email outdoorswisconsin@gmail.com, or call (608) 960-9263. For individual doctors’ contact for trans men, contact Jack Pickering, Ph.D., who focuses on voice training classes, contact pickerij@strose.edu or 518.454.5236. For resources specific to black men, Black Men Heal https://blackmenheal.org/. Call Dr. Will Courtenay at 415.346.6719 for men going through postpartum or visit the website at https://postpartummen.com/about-dr-courtenay/. Lastly, for sex therapy and intimacy concerns, call Bridget M. Finn, Ph.D., at (518) 260-0241 or email bmmfinn@aol.com or visit http://www.crcshny.com/.

By, Chioma Ofodile, MHC Intern